Tianzhu Academic Network

The Centre's activities in the context of the Tianzhu academic network

In 2017, the Centre became part of a global network of universities doing research on East-Asian Buddhism and more particularly Chinese Chan.  The other members of this international partnership are the University of British Columbia, the University of California, Berkeley, Harvard University, the Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (INALCO) and McMaster University. Within the context of this exciting venture, the Centre is organizing the following activities:

Short-term visiting scholar (3-10 March 2019): Prof. dr. Albert Welter (University of Arizona) Albert Welter

  • Lectures:

“Integrating Buddhism into Chinese Culture or How Did Buddhism Become Chinese? Buddhist Junzi (法門君子) & The Administration of Buddhism." Within the framework of a lecture series integrated in the MA course ‘Culture in Perspective: South and East Asia lecture‘

“A New Look at Old Traditions: Reimagining East Asian Buddhism through Hangzhou.” Ghent Centre for Buddhist Studies lecture series Permanent Training in Buddhist Studies.

The history of Buddhism incorporates East Asia in meaningful ways, but still tends toward Indo-centrism in its overall conception. This makes sense when one considers India as the birthplace and homeland of Buddhism and the development of key teachings and traditions. Yet, the history of Buddhism covers 2500 years, and for the last 1000 years or more, India has ceased to be a significant source of Buddhist inspiration, and figures primarily in passive memory rather than as active agent. This is especially true in the case of China, which actively reimagined Buddhism in unique and indigenous ways to form an intrinsically authentic form of East Asian Buddhism.

Hangzhou, a former capital of China during the Song dynasty (960-1278), was the focal point for these developments. From the Hangzhou region, new forms of Buddhism spread throughout East Asia, especially to Japan and Korea. As a result, when we speak about East Asian Buddhism today, we are largely speaking about forms of Buddhism that were initiated in Hangzhou, and adopted and adapted in other regions and time periods. The most prominent among these is Chan Buddhism, known in Japan as Zen and Korea as Sŏn, the practice of which from the 10th century on is indebted to Buddhist developments in Hangzhou.

The presentation reviews how the history of Buddhist Studies has neglected and marginalized East Asian Buddhism and the role of the greater Hangzhou region. It suggests how the Hangzhou region became a Buddhist center, a new Buddhist homeland, and a hub for interactions with Korea and Japan that were instrumental in the development of unique forms of East Asian Buddhism.

  • Text reading seminar (with PhD students)·    

Short-term visiting scholar (1-10 June 2019): Prof. dr. Li Yu-chen李玉珍 (National Cheng Chi University, Taiwan)

Yu-Chen Li

Professor Yu-chen Li received her Ph.D. degree in 2000 from Cornell University.  She is currently the chair of the Graduate Institute of Religious Studies at National Cheng Chi University. Yu-chen Li focuses on gender issues in Buddhism, such as the development of Bhiksuni sangha and Buddhist interaction with local culture through women. Her recent research deals with the conversion process of vegetarian women to Buddhism in 20th century Taiwan and Southeast Asia. Yu-chen Li published numerous works such as The Buddhist Nuns in Tang Dynasty, The Narrative of Sexuality and Desire among Sacred/Ordinary Men and Women, and Buddhism and Women in Postwar Taiwan, as well as  more than 40 papers. Professor Li will contribute to the Doctoral School Specialist Course "Women and Nuns in Chinese Buddhism" (3-6 June 2019) as guest lecturer.

Long-term visiting scholar (15 March-12 June 2019): Ms. Lin Ching-hui  林靜慧 (The Chung-hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies, Taiwan)

Lin Ching-hui Lin Ching-hui 林静慧 received her PhD from the Chinese Culture University (Taipei). Her dissertation is titled A study of political views in Laozi, Zhuangzi and The Yellow Emperor's Four Classics. She is project assistant at the Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts. Currently she works as an editor for the Database of Medieval Chinese Texts Project. Lin Ching-hui is also Assistant Professor at the Department of Chinese Literature of the Chinese Culture University.

Tianzhu Fieldwork Jasper Roctus

Tianzhu also provides funding for one Ghent University graduate student to travel to East Asia to do Buddhism-related fieldwork. We are happy to announce that for the academic year 2018-2019, this award has been given to Jasper Roctus (MA student Chinese Language and Culture).·    

Doctoral school specialist course: (3-6 June 2019) on "Women and Nuns in Chinese Buddhism"

For more information and schedule, click here.

Ghent Database of Medieval Chinese

The generous funding of the Tianzhu academic network funded programming on the Ghent Database of Medieval Chinese.